PSIRU Review of the Year 2021

We are happy to share PSIRU’s Review of the Year— an overview of everything that we’ve been working on in 2021. You can read about the key issues in public services our research has focussed on: closing the gender pay gap in public services, global narratives around public services, public ownership in transport (a case study of TfL), getting to net zero in public services and privatisation in central government. We’ve also published shorter articles presenting an anti-privatisation, pro-public services perspective on topics in national debates on the energy crisis and the sewage scandal. All our reports, publications and news articles can be found on our blog, at: Below, we’ve chosen some of the highlights:


    In January, we presented a major report looking at how austerity has disproportionately affected women’s pay in public services in EU countries. The report was part of the EU social dialogue project, involving a partnership with Fondazione ADAPT/ADAPT Foundation; Stredoeurópsky inštitút pre výskum práce/Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI); University of Greenwich and the European Public Services Union (EPSU). The report led to a further report for the Scottish Government exploring and evaluating international mechanisms that aim to revalue or result in the revaluation of women’s work.


We drew on expertise from scholars and activists in various countries to produce a report on global experiences in Narrative change and Public Services Spending and Provision. The research, funded by the Open Society Foundation (OSF), identified various narratives and understandings globally around how public services should be owned and run. PSIRU and the Institute for Innovation and Public Policy at UCL are jointly organizing a global online conference in 2022 on the same theme. It will bring together leading academics and social movement and trade union activists. 


As part of the International Transport Workers Federation’s People’s Public Transport Project, we presented a report on Public Ownership and Democratic Governance in Transport for London. The report is part of a series that aims to gather case studies identifying models for public operation and democratic governance of public transport that go beyond defending public ownership by promoting operation and democratic control by workers and users.


At COP 26 we launched a report for UNISON titled Getting to net zero in UK public services: The road to decarbonisation. The report, written in collaboration with Transition Economics, examines the measures and costs necessary for public services to meet climate targets.


We produced a report for the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) examining the forms and drivers of privatisation and outsourcing in central government. The report provided an overview of trends in privatisation as well as examples of preventing privatisation and promoting quality, transparent public administration. The report provided the background for the EU Social Dialogue Committee for central government administrations.


As part of the sixth Global Report on Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD VI) we produced a paper on Access to quality local public services as a precondition to beat inequality. The paper explores emerging trends in local public services delivery, including public, public-community and communing approaches.

PSIRU in the News

In September, as the UK faced a crisis in its energy supply, we published articles in the Guardian and in The Conversation that we could face these challenges much more easily if the UK’s energy suppliers were publicly owned.

When UK water companies became the centre of a scandal after they admitted they may have illegally released untreated sewage into rivers and waterways, our research was cited in a Guardian piece highlighting the problems with private ownership.

Other publications

Weghmann, V. and Hall, D. (January 2021) The unsustainable political economy of investor–state dispute settlement mechanisms. International Review of Administrative Sciences. 

Lobina, E., Weghmann, V. and Nicke, K. ( March 2021) Water remunicipalisation in Paris, France and Berlin, Germany.City of Barcelona, Spain and Aqua Publica Europea

Weghmann, V. (October 2021) Remunicipalisation in Germany.Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (published, in German)